U.S. assures Pacific leaders

The United States of America will maintain its leadership in the fight against climate change. They have not withdrawn from the Paris climate accord, just yet.

The points were highlighted by the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Susan Thornton, during a press conference in Apia yesterday.

Leading the U.S. government delegation to the 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, Ms Thorton said the US government is still working through the details, with regards to their status on the Paris Agreement.

In 2015, America signed the Paris Agreement under President Barack Obama.

However earlier this year, U.S. President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw.

 “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said at the time.

The announcement has angered the Pacific nations, who are at the forefront of the impact of climate change.

But Ms Thorton offered a different view yesterday.

“I think what the President has said was that the U.S. is going to maintain its Paris Agreement, we’re going to maintain our leadership on the reduction of green house gas emissions and other environmental and climate related efforts,” she said. 

“We have a lot to be very proud of in the United States and we have managed to show that you can reduce your green gas emissions and still keep the economy going. We have reduced emissions considerably over the last ten years. 

“So I don't see a contradiction between maintaining our engagement in the Pacific. Of course, the Pacific Islands have expressed concerns about climate change and the effects of climate change on them, which we’re very sensitive to.”

Ms Thorton remained assured of the US’s commitment to the region.

“We’ve heard a lot of comments, but I think the United States is going to remain engaged on the issue of climate change as we have programmes in the region that are bilateral,” she said. 

“We also have a seat on the board of Green Climate Fund and have contributed a billion dollars to the fund.

“We’re going to remain active, while we continue to look at the effects and implications of the agreement and what we’re going to do about our status in the agreement.”

(See for details of the U.S. engagement in the Pacific)

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